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How Humic Acids Benefit Soil

by John Bagnasco, President of the California Coastal Society, President of Garden America, amateur rose breeder, Chairman of “Save the Roses!”


Since the first day of creation, the planet has been persistently trying to balance itself. All the forces of nature are engaged in a constant attempt to maintain the balance that guarantees the Earth's survival. Physical, chemical, biological and other powers work together toward equilibrium of the many influences that exist in the world. One vital role in this grand scheme is that of humic acids. Science has long recognized their powerful influence on the balance of health in the soil and plant life. They play a critical role in proper soil structure, plant growth and productivity. Most soil scientists and agronomists acknowledge humic acids as the most important component of healthy, fertile soil.

Humic acids are made up of both large and small molecular structures with each providing a number of unique benefits. First, the larger humic acid configuration works primarily to improve soil conditions and soil structure. It is actually a food for beneficial, oxygen-loving microorganisms and thereby enhances microbial activity in the soil. This increase in soil energy and activity assists beneficial soil organisms (algae, yeasts, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, mycorrhizae and small animals) in performing their functions, which in turn, influences soil fertility and plant health. Some of these benefits include: greater soil aeration increased water-holding capacity better workability.


Humic acids have a very high ion-exchange capacity, which enables them to break down excess salts and toxins in the soil and break up tight clay soils. It also helps release nutrients to the plant that may have been locked up in the soil. The smaller humic acid molecular structure works primarily with the plant's growth and nutritional needs. This humic acid component provides a hormonal effect to help develop better root systems, build stronger plant and leaf structures, improve bloom set and fruit production. It also provides: quicker seed germination increased plant enzyme production increased plant vitamin content. These, of course, are the most important reasons why people grow plants.


What are the sources for quality humic acids? There are many resources of humic substances. By far, the best natural source with the highest concentration, comes from a salt-free, highly oxidized carbon called leonardite. Leonardite is like high quality, concentrated topsoil. If you imagine hundreds of feet of fresh-water organic matter that has been decomposed over thousands of years to form a relatively thin layer of organic concentrate, this is a form of leonardite. From this rich material come high concentrations of quality humic acids.

Companies like FERTILOME provide products that are excellent sources of humic acid. CLICK HERE for a brief video explaining the role of humic acids in the soil.

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